Independent NSW MLC Gordon Moyes has just announced he is joining Family First, becoming their first MP in NSW.
Moyes was elected to the Legislative Council in 2002 as a member of the Christian Democratic Party. He served in that capacity until 2009 when he was expelled from the party after a number of personal and policy clashes with the CDP and its leader, Fred Nile.
Immediately after he was expelled Moyes entered discussions with Family First about becoming a member and leading their upper house ticket in the 2011 election.
It’s an interesting, if not unexpected, move by Moyes. Whilst undoubtedly a social conservative he has sided with The Greens on a number of occasions and voted against the Government to subpoena documents in a range of areas.
Moyes holds a key balance of power position in the NSW upper house and his vote is often required to pass legislation. His modus operandi in Parliament seems to be to approach each issue on its merits and compare it to his personal beliefs and values. It will be interesting to see whether this changes now that he is once again a member of a political party. There are a few stark policy differences between Moyes and the Family First Senator Steve Fielding – most notably on the issue of climate change. Where Fielding is a climate sceptic/denialist, Moyes is a firm believer who has often advocated for stronger action on protecting the environment.
It’s difficult to predict the results of the next election but it is unlikely that Moyes would be re-elected. The Christian Right vote in the last few elections has only been high enough to elect one MLC – last election the CDP received 2.4%. It is possible that disgruntlement with both major parties could see a boost in the Christian vote, but I think this split will offset any positives to be gained from a small vote boost.
Update: It looks like we have another schism between Family First Senator Steve Fielding and Gordon Moyes, this time on the issue of asylum seekers.
This week Steve Fielding said of the 78 asylum seekers on board the Oceanic Viking:
This is our boat, it’s been hijacked by the refugees, and the Rudd government hasn’t got a clue what to do. Those people trying to jump the queue should go to the back of the queue.
Today, Gordon Moyes has announced a completely different position:
Kevin Rudd could solve the problem of the 78 Sri Lankan boat people on the Australian vessel in Indonesian waters by ordering today that the ship bring them to Australia. Process them in Perth or Port Hedland, then bring them to Sydney.
He also goes on to describe his experiences in resettling illegal refugees in the 1960’s.
This is a stark policy difference and mirrors the difference between the two parliamentarians on climate change. Only one day into the “leadership” of the NSW branch of Family First and Moyes is already picking fights with the Federal leader. Looks like it might be a habit…